2018’s Best and Worst UK Airports Revealed

2018's Best and Worst UK Airports Revealed

‘No one ever said reading this blog would be entertaining… So, in keeping with my theme, the annual list of the best and worst UK Airports is out!…’

I know, I know, the excitement is too much, but try to deal with it as best you can.


Every year, the good people at Which? scour statistics and bring us a comprehensive list of the best and worst UK airports. What a job that must be.

All UK airports that process more than 10 millions passengers per year are included in the rankings and scores are based on a variety of Things That Can Go Wrong.

Any traveller will tell your that the worst thing to happen at an Airport is having a member of staff simply guide you through the security procedure without properly checking all your luggage.

I jest, of course. The worst thing to happen to people at airports is that someone is too thorough with your stuff as that inevitably means that a queue will form. And everyone hates a security queue, am I right?

Stats and Stuff

The survey is based on 11,265 passenger visits to airports in the UK and covered 10 categories.  These included queuing times (obviously…) friendliness of staff, prices (aint no airport scoring well on that one), toilets, and flight delays. Attitudes were surveyed between May 2017 and May 2018.

The stats also included the likelihood of passengers recommending the airport they reported on to a friend.  I don’t know about you, but I live in North Wales and we don’t have airports here.

My closest airports are Liverpool and Manchester.  Even if I thought they were both terrible (which I don’t), recommending, say, Cardiff airport to my friends will not stop them going to Liverpool.  This is because it’s already a 2hr 20min drive.  Crap or not, people from my neck of the woods who want to leave the country don’t have a great deal of choice.

Anyway, who doesn’t want to go to Liverpool airport and listen to those accents for a few hours?  Exactly.  It’s amazing.

Worst Airport in the UK

For the 3rd consecutive year, London Luton airport has been voted in at the number 1 spot.  I’m not sure if I should be congratulating them for their hat-trick here, but I’m guessing not.

LLA scored worst in many areas, giving it just 35% overall.   Terminal 3 at Manchester and London Stansted came in joint second with a score of 44%.  I can’t personally comment on either Luton or Stansted, but I can’t recall ever experiencing difficulty at T3 Manchester any time I’ve been there.  Which is a lot.

Best Airport in the UK

The best large UK airport is Robin Hood (Doncaster/Sheffield), which came flying in (see what I did there?) with an impressive overall score of 87%.  Doncaster’s passengers were delighted with the shop prices, short queues and staff efficiency.

London’s Southend airport was in second place with a score of 84%, while Newcastle did the North East proud with an excellent 74%.


Inverness topped the list of Scottish airports, with a high(land) score of 68%, while Aberdeen airport facilities ended up with a poor 49%.  Please see me after class, Dyce.

In Wales, Cardiff finished with 64%, while Belfast’s two airports were scored at 50% and 62%.

How fair are the results?

I tend to take these surveys with a pinch of salt.  It’s not because I think that passengers like to complain about stuff (although they often do), but there’s a fair bit of responsibility for the results which fall to travellers themselves.

For example, turning up at security in heels, belts, scarves and a shit ton of jewellery that then has to be removed WILL absolutely cause delays behind you – regardless of how good the staff is.

Leaving all your electrical equipment at the bottom of your suitcase and not putting liquids in clear plastic bags will also cause problems for everyone else.  There are only so many aspects of airport travel that the staff can actually control.

We popped over to Cologne from Manchester T3 two weeks ago and happened to arrive shortly after Ryanair’s 24-hour strike had ended.  The queues were incredible and chaos ruled.  However, that’s not the fault of T3 at Manchester, whose staff were working like crazy to help everyone.

The fault for that situation lies at the feet of Ryanair. But if you surveyed an angry passenger who’d had their flight to Malaga cancelled they’d probably tell you the airport was terrible.  I’m not suggesting that airports like Luton, whose score low enough to suggest they need to do a fair bit of work, shouldn’t take responsibility, but not everything is under their control.

Top 10 Worst Airports in the UK

Aaaanyway, the top 10 worst airports in the UK are, as follows:

London Luton – 35%

Manchester Terminal 3 – 44%

London Stansted – 44%

Manchester Terminal 1 – 46%

Aberdeen – 49%

Belfast International – 50%

Manchester Terminal 1 – 51%

Leeds Bradford – 54%

London Heathrow Terminal 3 – 55%

London Gatwick South – 55%

London Heathrow Terminal 4 – 56%

London Gatwick North – 57%

In conclusion, if you pay much attention to surveys like these, please only fly from Robin Hood airport.

Or get yourself a private jet.  It’s entirely up to you.


Suz xx 


2018's Best and Worst UK Airports Revealed




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About sightseeingshoes 261 Articles
Hi, I'm Suz. I love travelling (obvs..), dogs, shoes and wine, although not necessarily in that order. I'm originally from Scotland, but now live in Snowdonia in North Wales with my husband and a seriously large shoe collection.

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